Continuing insight from Arizona Fall League play and the impact that experience will have on some of the top prospects in the Nationals organization, we turn to a couple of the position players, third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez and center fielder Daniel Johnson.
Mesa Solar Sox pitching coach Michael Tejera said Gutierrez bounced back from getting his hand spiked early on in AFL play to finish strong.
“Kelvin had his routine and he was working very hard on it,” Tejera said. “His hand got spiked, but he came back strong. He came back and was hitting the ball real good, being very selective. He did a great job on defense, too. I think that was one of the main reasons why he got put on the 40-man was because of the way he looked in the AFL.”
Gutierez hit .350 in 13 games for Mesa with 14 hits, including a triple and a homer, and nine RBIs.
“Kelvin is on the right track. I think he has a chance to be a productive player in the big leagues,” said Tejera.
Gutierrez hit .278 in 68 games last season in the minor leagues, with 13 doubles, seven triples, two homers and 17 RBIs. He hit .288 for high Single-A Potomac.
Johnson demonstrated his elite speed, strong arm and solid batting plate presence in AFL play. Tejera said that was even more impressive because Johnson played a full season of 130 games between low Single-A Hagerstown and Potomac prior to his arrival in Mesa. He hit .217 in 17 games for the Solar Sox with five stolen bases.
“Daniel was the player of the year for most of the minor leagues,” Tejera said. “There was a reason for that. Being this his first full season, he did well at the beginning offensively. Towards the end, I think he was kind of tired, but you can see his tools.
“He’s got some tremendous tools. He can hit for power. He puts the ball in play. He can run. He has a cannon for an arm. We are going to see more of that next year when he comes back fresh.”
Johnson slashed .294/.356/.459 with five homers, 20 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for the P-Nats.
Coming up next, we will get our final words on AFL play from Tejera on the play of top prospect Victor Robles.